It was a bit like the season when Juventus were chasing the European Cup, or when Italy were chasing La Liga and the Champions League.
There was only one major problem.
It started on March 23.
It took almost two weeks.
But this time, Italy had an answer.
The new year has come and gone, and the clock has not even begun to tick on March 27.
The time is finally up.
Italy’s national football team has now reached the halfway point of the Serie A campaign.
It has finished the season with six wins, one draw, two defeats and a solitary defeat, all of which have come against their archrivals.
The two big questions hanging over the country this season have been: will it be a repeat of last season, when Italy failed to make it out of the group stages?
And if so, will the team that finished fifth last year still be able to win the World Cup?
With that in mind, here’s a look at the five teams that are likely to make their debut in the second half of the season.1.
Juventus have won nine of their last 10 matches against their opponents.
Their best ever start to a season was in 2011-12, when they won eight games and drew five, and this year they have only lost once.
Juve won the Serie B title in 2016-17, the Champions league and a second consecutive Scudetto.2.
Real Madrid, who won the league for the first time in seven years last season and also took the Copa del Rey last year, have a tough trip to come back.
The reigning champions are back in the Champions group stage, with two games left in the season, against Real Sociedad and Barcelona.
They are also on the road to a fourth straight European title, after a runner-up finish last season.3.
Atletico Madrid have played three times in the last six days.
Their worst defeat of the campaign came on Wednesday, when a 2-0 defeat by Barcelona at the Camp Nou was followed by a 1-0 victory over Valencia on Saturday.
In their last two matches, Atletico have lost twice and won once.4.
Juventus beat AC Milan 3-1 in the Coppa Italia final last month.
The two teams met again on Sunday, when Juventus scored twice in a 1.1-to-1 scoreline.
The Italians are on the verge of clinching the league, but if they can’t get past AC Milan, they’ll be in for a tough start to the new campaign.5.
Real are the big favorites to reach the Champions Cup final this season.
The first leg of the semi-final will take place on March 22, while the second leg takes place on April 7.
In the third round, they will face Sevilla on April 18, and then Napoli on April 22.